Featherstone Lionesses have been stripped of the Women’s Amateur Rugby League Association’s Challenge Cup.
The Lionesses, who accounted for West Leeds 24-10 in the final at the Millennium Stadium, Featherstone have since been found to have fielded an unregistered player.
The game has been awarded to West Leeds, with a 24-0 scoreline.
A WARL spokesperson said: “The final, which was streamed live on OuRLeague, attracted healthy viewing figures but, days afterwards, we were informed via a third party that Featherstone Lionesses had fielded an unregistered player.
“WRLA commenced enquiries and found that that club had in fact played an unregistered player and, following advice, commenced a disciplinary case against the club, who were informed of proceedings against them and later given a date when the case would be heard.
“There was no response from the club and on the date of the proceedings no one from Featherstone Lionesses was present; they were found guilty in their absence and (in addition to the game being recorded as a 24-0 victory to West Leeds) were also fined £100, suspended for twelve months.
“The club was given an opportunity to appeal but no one to date has contacted WRLA.”
WRLA chair Steve Manning added: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate West Leeds Ladies on winning the 2022 WRLA Challenge Cup although the whole circumstances leave a bitter taste within WRLA when, from the beginning of the allegation and subsequent enquiry, no one from the Lionesses, who are part of the Featherstone Lions club, contacted us.
“On the evening prior to the final, through speaking to the Lionesses coaching staff, WRLA were aware of their problems with the playing squad and, up to the final itself, worked with them with the information they gave us.
“Sadly their coaches decided to field an unregistered player, playing under an assumed name, so they had a 17-player squad on the day.
“The coaches and some of the players who played in that final have now moved to a Super League club and whatever happens next is an issue for that club.
“Although feeling sorry for the current Featherstone Lionesses, who are playing this summer, WRLA had to act for the integrity of WRLA, and the women’s game as a whole, and took no pleasure in making the decisions we had to make regarding this matter.
“It’s such a shame that the first-ever live streaming of a WRLA Challenge Cup final as ended up finishing in these sad circumstances. WRLA are now arranging to present the Challenge Cup.”
WRLA declined to name the player involved.
Chris Hough of Saddleworth Rangers is certain to miss the rest of the season, and the early stages of the 2023 campaign.
Hough has been banned for eight games (reduced from nine because of his previous good record) after being found guilty by National Conference League bosses of unacceptable language and behaviour during his side’s 48-24 defeat at the hands of Ince Rose Bridge in the Division One fixture on July 16.
Two Milford players, meanwhile, have been suspended for eight games (reduced to six for previous good behaviour and guilty pleas). The duo are Callum Clark and Max Jones, who were both red carded for punching during the 24-20 Division One reverse at West Bowling on July 23.
A five-match ban has been handed to Dillan Thornton, of Hunslet Warriors, for what was described as a ‘light-contact’ headbutt in the South Leeds outfit’s 40-20 defeat at Division Two rivals Wigan St Judes on July 16.
On the same afternoon, Adam Biscomb (Normanton Knights) was marched for ‘punching to the head’ in his side’s 31-12 success over Barrow Island in the same section. He will be sidelined for five fixtures.
York Acorn coach Nicky Caldwell will be barred from the touchline for two games (reduced from four in the light of his previous good record, and his guilty plea) for foul language to the match official during the Thanet Road outfit’s 28-20 victory over Rochdale Mayfield on July 2.
And Adam Holland of Leigh East has similarly had a four-match suspension reduced to two games after being found guilty of lashing out during the 40-10 reverse at the hands of Division Two promotion aspirants Waterhead on the same day.
Woolston Rovers’ Ryan Brown is banned for one match (reduced from two for his previous good record) for ‘reckless strikes with arm’ in the 28-10 defeat by Division Two leaders Heworth on July 23.
And Charlie Barker (Normanton) had a one-match ban for ‘careless contact to head’ in the 39-12 Division Two win over Dewsbury Celtic on July 23 reduced to sending off sufficient, in the light of his previous good record.
Dewsbury Moor coach James Delaney, found guilty of foul language in the 22-12 win at Division Two opponents Hunslet Warriors on July 23, had a two-match touchline ban reduced to one game, suspended until the end of this year. The Moor’s Finley Bruce, meanwhile, was found not guilty of punching in that game while Jake Starbuck (Bentley) was deemed not guilty of a ‘light-contact’ headbutt in the 26-18 home defeat against Drighlington, in Division Three, on July 22.
Sharlston Rovers and the wider amateur Rugby League community are in mourning for Jack Kirmond.
The long-serving player, the brother of York City Knights forward Danny Kirmond – died aged 33 following an incident at the Rovers clubhouse on Sunday, August 7. A man has appeared in court charged with murder following an alleged assault.
Scotland have withdrawn from next month’s European Under 19 Championship in Italy – and the clarion call has gone out for financial assistance to help Ukraine fulfil their pledge to take part.
Although the Scots have cited changes to coaching staff and a lack of player availability as reasons for pulling out, Ukraine, despite the tremendous difficulties posed by the Russian invasion of the country, are determined to travel to Lignano Sabbiadoro for the competition, which gets underway on Saturday, September 3.
Ukraine’s kit is being provided by supportive manufacturers Canterbury and Hardgear, but funds are still needed to meet travel and other costs.
One high-profile figure who has given the side his backing is Canberra Raiders forward Hudson Young, whose grandmother Valentina moved to Australia with her family after World War II.
Valentina initially lived in a migrant camp at Greta, a small town near Newcastle where Young was born and raised, and he said: “For Ukraine to be able to play in the tournament would be a massive boost for them, considering what is going on over there. Giving kids the opportunity to play Rugby League and having something to strive for, like the chance to play in a Word Cup, is going to drive them to keep going.”
European Rugby League general manager David Butler and his colleagues have brought in a new fixture format following Scotland’s withdrawal.
The seven remaining nations – defending champions France, together with England, Ireland, Serbia, Ukraine, Wales and hosts Italy – will now face each other over 20-minute games on the opening day, after which a league table will be compiled.
The teams ranked one to four will contest the semi-finals on Tuesday, September 6, with the winners progressing to the final on Saturday 10. The two losers will go head-to-head for the European Plate.
The teams ranked five to seven will play each other twice in 40-minute games, the first round taking place on Tuesday, September 6 and the second on Saturday, September 10, to determine final placings, with the European Shield the prize.
Butler said: “The innovative new format gives each team the opportunity to test itself and could easily lead to some surprises.
“The nations involved are really excited to try it out and we are anticipating a highly competitive series of matches across the three playing days, as well as a terrific experience for those involved, many of whom could be playing in the 2025 World Cup.”
The seven competing squads will be based at the Udinese resort of Lignano Sabbiadoro, where they will have access to training and recovery facilities.
Saturday, September 3: 11.00am France v Italy; 11.25am England v Ireland; 11.50am Wales v Serbia; 12.15pm Italy v Ukraine; 12.40pm Ireland v France; 1.05pm Serbia v England; 1.30pm Wales v Italy; 1.55pm England v Ukraine; 2.20pm Serbia v Ireland; 2.45pm Ukraine v France; 3.10pm Italy v England; 3.35pm Ireland v Wales; 4.00pm Serbia v Ukraine; 4.25pm Ireland v Italy; 4.45pm Wales v France; 5.10pm Italy v Serbia; 5.35pm Ukraine v Wales; 6.00pm France v England; 6.25pm Ukraine v Ireland; 6.50pm France v Serbia; 7.15pm England v Wales.
Tuesday, September 6: Championship semi-finals (80-minute games): 2.00pm 1st v 4th; 4.00pm 2nd v 3rd; Shield round one (40-minute games): 6.00pm 5th v 6th; 7.00pm 6th v 7th; 8.00pm 7th v 5th.
Saturday, September 10: Shield round two (40-minute games): 12.00pm 5th v 6th; 1.00pm 6th v 7th; 2.00pm 7th v 5th; 4.00pm Plate final, 6.00pm Championship final.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.